With dawn I was up and prepping to be underway, conscious it would be a long one to walk in to Whangarei over reasonably challenging terrain- an estuary, a hill (Kauri Mountain), a beach walk (yay, my favourite) then a decent sized mountain called Bream Head before some bays into my Aunt's place in Taurikura where I would rest up for a zero day.
The estuary walk went pretty well at first
With some interesting pools of molloscs to play with
Anyhow, I was faced with an estuary to cross, so using my sticks I sort of skated my way across the mud until I reached the promised crossing. I was to look for a white marker which would indicate the shallowest crossing point, only up to your knees, the trail notes suggested. Hm. From where I was standing, I could see three white sticks, all of which I assume marked the channel and therefore would be the deepest part of the estuary for safe boating navigation. After much internal debate, I decided to forge ahead, choosing a likely looking spot. Using my sticks in front to prod the ever-deepening waters, I tried to find a safe way across.... In no time I was up to my chest in cold water and anticipating a swim, when my feet found the other bank and I clambered out onto a mudflat. Lovely. I made my way carefully to farmland with my shoes filling with pungent ooze. Up into pastureland where I tried briefly to clean myself up.
It was a brief stroll really, before I was up the wee foothill and looking at a really nice piece of woodwork. Well done, mate!
So off I went! And it was hard yakker, actually, taking me more than an hour to get to the ridge line, sometimes clambering up and over timber and rocks dropped on the trail for construction work- for those following in later months, you should have a nicely made path with steps no less! Be grateful. At that moment, I wasn't because it was an obstacle course clambering over everything!
Until we reached a picnic spot where Dad had left some champagne, bread, cheese and salami, cheers!
I was halfway along the ridge and it was 4 pm. I decided I wouldn't make it to my Aunt's at the prescribed time, so I called. She was happy to hear I was safe, and after discussing when I might arrive (after dark), she worriedly told me to watch out for unsavoury characters on Bream Head, going as far as to suggest I don't ask questions, just go on the attack! This had me thinking, so for the next half hour as I went through the bush I kept a wary eye out for 'unsavoury characters' while wondering what had happened to worry her so.
I soon found out. Round a corner near the last major rock formation, a shadowy figure was lurking in the bushes. I gripped my sticks and readied a frenzied attack along with an insanity plea, when the mysterious figure stepped forward- it was my Dad!
We headed for my Aunt's place, trying to beat the onset of night. We reached the carpark around 6 pm, so Dad headed for home to help with dinner while I walked around the bays to meet them once I had completed this part of the trail.
I finally finished walking that day around 7 pm, but not before finding an amusing letterbox and having a chat with a local about Te Araroa. Great to see more Kiwis are aware it exists!
Day 18: A zero day... My Aunt Kay kindly offered to drive me around Whangarei the next day to complete some
errands... We also took time to drop by and see my Grandma, Doreen, who is at a nearby rest home. I gave a presentation on my walk and the equipment I am using to the rest home residents, which was a lot of fun- they had some excellent questions, and I think more than half were still awake at the conclusion of my talk, so I count that as a win!
While at the cafe I ended up doing a wee media interview with the Bream bay News, and by fluke ran into a bloke who I worked with in Solomon Islands!
Small world, huh. Good to see you Warren!
I also saw some unusual sights on the beach as I walked towards Waipu Cove
I also spotted some Royal Spoonbills, and was told by the writer for the Bream Bay News that the area was an important sanctuary for the New Zealand Fairy Tern, which she said was now the most endangered seabird in NZ. Good on you guys for your conservation work, I wish you much success.
Around 5 pm I got into Waipu Cove and set up for the night in an almost deserted camping ground at the end of the beach.
Lookin forward to goin over the headlands and seeing what is on the other side! g'night, y'all.